Thursday, 7 November 2013

Setting the record straight on fruit..............

After I finished my workout today I came home and had a bowl of fruit with a couple of dollops of low fat yoghurt, topped with some nuts and seeds. Now to some this would seem like a huge no no. 
Fruit is sugar and sugar makes you fat.

There is so much conflicting advice when it comes to eating which type of fruit, how much fruit, when to eat fruit, don't eat fruit and carbs together and so on and so forth.  If fruit is so bad for us why do so many diets revolve around fruit, The Watermelon Diet, The Red Fruits Diet, The Apple a Day Diet, The Go Bananas Diet etc. I would like to put my thoughts down on eating fruit.

First of all a quick recap on fruits food group category, which is 'carbohydrate'. What are carbohydrates? Well in a nutshell carbohydrates are not only our preferred source of energy, but our brain, heart and nervous system need a constant supply of carbohydrate (in the form of blood glucose) in order to function properly.

All carbohydrates contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.  They vary in size, structure and the speed at which they are broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream. Carbohydrates are normally categorised into either 'simple' or 'complex'.  Fruit is classified as a 'simple' sugar and starchy vegetables, pasta, rice and whole grains are classed as complex carbs. The simplest carbohydrate consists of just one molecule (monosaccharide) for example glucose, fructose (found in fruit) and galactose (found in milk).

We can further categorise simple sugars into 'Intrinsic sugars' and 'Extrinsic sugars' depending upon them being found in their natural raw state or added during the food processing phase. 

Intrinsic sugars are found in their natural state within the cells of plants such as fruits and vegetables.  Intrinsic means the sugar is locked inside the cells.  The simple sugars in these foods are often accompanied by lots of fibre, vitamins, minerals and valuable phyto-chemicals. 

On the other hand Extrinsic or refined / processed / added sugars unfortunately make up the vast bulk of the populations sugar intake. These are found in *table sugar, soft and fizzy drinks, sweets, cakes, pastries, some cereals and many processed foods and desserts.  They will provide you with a lot of 'empty' calories, meaning you get a surge of energy without the vitamins, minerals or fibre.  Quickly followed by a dip in energy and a need for more sugar.  These sugars therefore have the potential to destabilise blood sugar levels.

So I would aim to have my fruit either in the morning to help fuel my day.  Pre or post exercise, such in the case of the picture above.  It was a small banana, handful of grapes and blueberries with two tablespoons of Rachel's Organic Raspberry Low Fat Yoghurt and a sprinkling of 4 seed mix (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and golden linseeds).  I'm also partial to a couple of wedges of melon or handful of berries and nuts as a snack throughout the day or before a meal.  Fruits that contain a lot of water are very low in carbs so are still okay on not very active days.

During my research came across this chap Frederic Patenaude, he has some interesting stuff to say on the subject (amongst other stuff), please click on the link for The Top 10 Myths About Eating Fruit, also look for Part2.

Also look at this previous blog for the best times to eat your carbs and not get fat

* Table sugar - I have highlighted table sugar because in my view table sugar is a natural product, I would have this over artificial sugar / sweetener.  Moderation is key.

So I hope I've made it crystal clear that fruit is wonderful, so go ahead and have a lovely bright coloured fruit bowl for tomorrows breakfast and start your day off with some zing!

All the best, till next time